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The Realistic Way to Deal with "Scarcity Mindset"

If you can’t change your “scarcity mindset,” change your scarcity behaviors.

Pamela J. Hobart
Pamela J. Hobart
2 min read
The Realistic Way to Deal with "Scarcity Mindset"

Have you heard the good news about "abundance?"

Turns out, the world is not a cramped and competitive hellscape. Embracing an attitude of "abundance" is more reality-based, so they say - plus it just plain works better. When you operate from a place of abundance, you make better choices and feel happier, too.

Alright then - these observations about scarcity and abundance seem true, as far as they go. But I do not believe you can shift your mindset from scarcity to abundance at will.

Over our long evolutionary past, feelings of scarcity presumably arose for protective reasons: to protect us from exploitation, attune us to what is necessary to thrive, and motivate us towards constituents of reproductive success.

Today, tons of false-positive fears are as likely to make us miserable as to protect us from genetic death. But, on balance, negative emotions must have helped our ancestors to survive to breed another (miserable) day.

We must face the fact that are the inheritors of a now-vestigial, obsolete scarcity mindset. Scarcity orientation is a part of us, not just a surface-level mental illusion. That's why it's hard to shake.

If you're even reading this, you probably haven't been able to jettison your scarcity orientation at the mere suggestion of some other "abundance" blogger (though "abundance" probably appealed to you on some level, too).

Don't forget: we have inherited powers of reason from our ancestors, too. These powers are also flawed, but they are real.

There's nothing wrong with you if you still feel scarcity in your bones. Your animal doesn't want to become a social outcast or to die the last in its line. Honor that. There's no shame.

At the same time, you can choose to behave in ways that honor your "higher" parts. Take some time to explore your motivations. Observe what relevant role models do. Consider the worst-case scenario - but consider its actual likelihood, too. Do whatever it takes to become the kind of person who can handle whatever comes up.

In other words, gather evidence about which potential outcomes of your decisions are truly unacceptable and catastrophic and which would be merely uncomfortable in the service of growth.

Maybe your animal is genuinely more risk-averse than most. This means "operating from abundance" for you will look rather different than it does for fearless others. You're probably not going to quit your job and go freelance from the beaches of Bali. Ok! If pushing your own boundaries still seems desirable or necessary, make and measure the change from where you're actually starting - not from where you imagine other people's boundaries to be.

We have only erratic control over our emotions, but we virtually always have control over our actions. If you can't change your scarcity "mindset," at least consider changing your scarcity behaviors. Whatever persists of this discrepancy won't feel great, but neither does the alternative - playing it as safe and as small as possible.

Emotions influence behaviors, but behavior also feed back into emotions over time. Use the choices you can directly control to budge the emotions you can't.

Pamela J. Hobart

Philosophical Life Coaching in Austin, TX. Also mother of 3, Miata driver, and DIY manicure aficionado.